Epiphyte. Rhizome absent. Pseudo-bulbs narrowly ovoid, compressed, less than 3 cm, obliquely and alternately arranged, sub-imbricate, wrinkled. Leaf linear-oblong, tapering to each end, sessile, fleshy. Both pseudo-bulbs and leaves are brownish red tinged. Flowers very small and solitary, dull brown coloured, on very short pedicels from the bases of pseudo-bulbs. Sepals un-equal and with ciliolate margins, the dorsal ovate-lanceolate, blunt, spreading; the lateral pair slightly longer. Petals broadly ovate, with obtuse apices. Lip oblong lanceolate, slightly deflexed from the base, flat.
This species is named after J.L.Lister of the Bhotan Cinchona Association who discovered it. The authors, Sir George King and Robert Pantling described this species as “the most curious” of the whole Bulbophyllum genus.
One has to put extra ordinary efforts to find “the most curious” ones. The leaf and pseudo-bulb’s tinge and the bulb arrangements of this species are very unique, which will help us to locate it. However, the search for this took several months without any success. I showed the colour drawings of Robert Pantling to a lot of local people to enquire if anybody had seen some plants like this somewhere, but in vain. I was not able to find the species in 2011, however in the early 2012, a trip was made to look for some other plants which I had spotted in my previous surveys. On the way back through the right bank of a small stream, I found some medium sized trees with some local climbers in flowers. Viewed them with my binoculars for a much closer view. Suddenly my eyes got locked to a pendulous bunch of some orchid species….. the view was not clear to do proper identification from the spot I was standing. Decided to have a closer look, crossed the river with the help of a few fallen bamboos and climbed up the hill and the tree to find a huge cluster of Bulbophyllum tortuosum (Blume) Lindl, in buds and in flowers. I have no words to explain my joy, I was really jumping up and down on top of that tree!!! Came down the tree, took camera and flashes up the tree and produced this beautiful photograph.
Epiphyte. Psuedo-bulbs cylindric with thickened base, 3 to 5cm long, attached 2 to 3 cm apart. Rhizome long and densely rooting. Leave single, narrowly oblong, obtuse, the base narrowed, 7 to 12 cm long and 2 to 4 cm in breadth. Scape short and bracteate, producing a single flower from either the sides of the base of the pseudo-bulbs or from the rhizome between the pseudo-bulbs. Flowers pale yellow to green base with purple nerves, lip with purple margins. Sepals sub-equal, lanceolate, sub-acute, five nerved, lateral pair falcate. Petals lanceolate, shorter than the sepals, three nerved. Lip shorter than the petals, lanceolate, thickened and concave at the base.
Relatively a common species of the tropical region. Plant can easily be spotted on most of the trees, fully covering the trunk, from the bottom to top. On the onset of summer rains, this species starts blooming. I had always noticed that, choosing a flower to photograph from many is a very difficult task. When in plenty, the best will always elude. Tried several flowers only to find that lip broken, sepals marked with dust, petals twisted…….!!!!! Finally got this particular shot from a flower suggested by my friend who accompanied me to the location. Documented nicely, with several lighting options to get the perfect shot I dreamt for.
Epiphyte. Relatively a small plant. Stem very short, leaves 3 to 4in numbers and 3 to 5 cm long and less a cm wide, linear to oblong, narrowed to the base, the apex bifid. Raceme stout, short and with triangular bracts. Flowers small, creamy white, confined to the upper half of ovary. Sepals sub-equal, ovate to lanceolate, apiculate, the lateral pair attached to the foot of the column. Petals shorter than the sepals, ovate. Lip at right angle from the short foot and lying parallel to the column, with two blotches of brown on is calli.
Relatively a small plant, hence it is very difficult to spot it in the wild. However, found growing along with some Aerides species in a hot tropical valley. Missed it in bloom in the year 2011 as it bloomed much earlier than what is mentioned in the referral King and Pantling’s work. The authors mentioned the blooming month as July, so visited the region in the second half of July only to see the pods and the flowers withered away. It is so sad to miss a plant in bloom after spotting it. Missing a species in bloom means waiting for another full year. In 2012, much importance was given to this little species and visited and re-visited the region several times and finally along with the summer rains I found the species in bloom. Although the day started with morning sun shine, half way on my journey the sky turned dark and it started raining. Luckily I had carried my rain coat and had a nice comfortable walk wearing that in heavy rains. By the time I reached the spot, the heavy rains turned to light showers, and I was able to get this photograph of this species.
Epiphyte. Stems stout, long as 4 to 5 feet in length, pendulous. Leaves fleshy, oblong, sessile, broad and unequally bifid at the apex, sheathed at the base, often long as 12 to 15 cm. Racemes leaf opposed, shortly pedunculate, much longer than the leaves, 4 to 6 flowered, sometimes less as two. Flowers fleshy, very attractive with its outer surface creamy white and inner surface with yellow base and chocolate brown edge to edge almost parallel stripes, sometimes stripes are broken half way in the middle. The lip of this beautiful species got a yellow tinged hypochile, with its apical lobe with a broad marginal yellow coloured edging and auricles are marked with pink.
Sir. George King and Robert Pantling, in their monumental publication, “The Orchids of the Sikkim-Himalayas” published in the year 1898, described this species as “magnificent”. Widely photographed by a lot of people as it is grown in various nurseries across the region. However, those artificial circumstances never produced the “magnificence” Sir. George King and Robert Pantling found 120 years back. So, I too decided to look for this species from its natural habitat itself, which the authors had described between an altitude of 3000 to 6000 ft. The initial thoughts of its characteristics like long pendulous stem and pretty long leaves would help to find it with ease went in vain, as I was not able to spot this species. Then in the winter of 2012 on a visit to a place at an altitude between 2800 to 4100 ft, I found a few plants on a tree near to a road side home. On enquiry I was told that they brought those plants from inside the forest and planted it there a few years back. The young couple of the home was so kind enough to take me to the location of the tree from where they had collected it. The location was deep inside the adjoining forest. There was no sign of any buds, but I kept the hope it will bloom in the early Spring. Visited the place again in February and March, to see first the plant in buds and the next time in bloom and was able to produce this wonderful photograph, which matched all the descriptions Sir. George King and Robert Pantling had in their monumental work.
Epiphyte. A very stout stemmed plant which attains a height of 20 to 25 cm. Leaves flushed with reddish tinge, oblong, recurved, tapered to the bifid apex, long about 10 to 18 cm in length. Racemes longer then the leaves, simple, axillary, many flowered. The peduncle long and with distant short sheaths. Flowers beautiful, rose coloured, sepals and petals are often with irregular dark spots of the same colour, lip with dark coloured veins, all with paler margins. Sepals and petals sub-equal, oblong, blunt. Lip twice as long as the sepals, entire, triangular.
This is a species of the tropical areas and blooms in the the high summer days, when the temperature is on the rise. Devoid of any wind, the tropical valleys of the Eastern Himalayas are humid. It is a common species found in various locations. However, the flowers get dirty while in bud form itself due to humid and dusty conditions of the region. So I decided to look for this species on valleys inside the forested area, so that they will be fresh and pretty to be photographed. Spotted a few plants on the banks of a tributary of River Teesta on the Eastern side of the river. I still remember the journey to the valley, a deep descend from an altitude of 2800 ft to 540 ft with the temperature as high as 36C. Totally wet with sweat from my body, the first thing I did on reaching the valley was to dive into the river. Enjoyed a cool swim in the flowing cold water for about half an hour. Then climbed up the tree to have this beautiful shot of the species. Really enjoyed the flowers and the photograph I got, not the tedious climb I have to make back to the motor-able road to find a vehicle to go home.
Terrestrial. A small plant of the height between 7 to 15 cm of stem and 3 to 6 cm of inflorescence. Leaves ovate, the petioles short and somewhat expanded at the base, glabrous. Peduncle glandular-pubescent, with few scattered sheathing bracts with acuminate spices. Raceme much shorter than the peduncle, bearing 2 to 5 resupinate flowers. Sepals unequal, dorsal broadly ovate, acuminate, its apex shortly recurved; the lateral pair oblong, acute all glandular-hairy. Petals smaller than the sepals, oblanceolate, with hooked spices. Base of the lip adpressed to the face of the column and with two calli, claw with seven or eight pairs of slender unequal fimbriae.
The most photographed of all Jewel orchids, because it is available in most of the nurseries across the region. However, seldom photographed in bloom. Very rare in the wild also. It was a dream to document this species in bloom. Tried several seasons to find the plant in bloom. Grows in low altitudes and bloom in winter months, made it a habit every year to survey for this. Finally found from the Eastern zone of the region, during the month of November in buds. As there are not much blooming in those months of any other species spent considerable days in and around the region to document it in bloom. However, it took considerably more days to open than expected. With some urgent work I was forced to move to another location for a couple of days and returned to the region to find a single bud opened the same day. It was a delight to my eyes and will never forget that moment.
Terrestrial. A small beautiful plant of the size 6 to 12 cm in height. Stem leafy below and bracteate above, passing into pubescent peduncle. Leaves ovate-elliptic to elliptic, the peduncle sheathing in the lower half. Raceme sub-secund, its rachis and the bracts and ovaries sparsely pubescent or sometimes sub-glabrous. Sepals sub-equal, ovate, sub-acute. Petals about as long as the sepals, cunneate-oblong, acute at the apex. Lip about as long as the sepals, saccate at the base, the apical lobe short.
This species was documented from the Western Himalayas by several people who visited the “Valley of Flowers”. However, even though described by many from Eastern Himalayas, none was able to produce a photograph (It never grows in any nurseries like other Jewel orchids may be the reason!!!). I decided to survey an area between 12000 and 13000 ft. As it grows near to streams and water bodies, I concentrated on areas with wet and moist surroundings. Even though it is a small plant, its leaves are very attractive and draws attention. At those altitude the main trees are the Rhododendrons with very thick and strong branches which make survey under them very difficult. However, with very much difficulty I crawled under those thickets in search of this species for several days. Finally all of a sudden I was standing in front of the species, altogether around 15 plants scattered on a wet moist land. They were in buds only, however it took another two weeks to see them blooming. In the two weeks I visited the area for 6 days. Finally I got it on a rainy day. I still remember the efforts I put that evening to dry up my camera stuff.
Terrestrial. Whole plant about 35 to 80 cm in height. Lower part of stem sheathed, middle leafy and upper part bracteate. Leaves 4 to 6 cm long, oblong to elliptic, 5 nerved, sometimes 7 also, the base of the leaf narrowed into a long tubular sheath. Spike 4 to 8 cm long, laxly flowered. Sepals sub-equal, broadly ovate, acute, spreading, the lateral pair sub-erect. Petals narrowly oblong, sub-acute, curved inwards, shorter than the sepals. Lip as long as the sepals, variable in breadth, with large cuneate or rounded, fimbriate or crenate side lobes and a small oblong entire apical lobe. Spur infundibuliform at the base, slender laterally compressed, geniculte, sub-clavate below the knee, longer than the shortly stalked beaked ovary. Stigmas separated by the area in the centre by the orifice of the spur.
The local people of the region had seen this plant in bloom and had admired its beauty for many years, to them this is the most attractive flower of their forest. I located a few places, where this species appears every season and was following it to document in bloom. Information came from local villagers that they found two plants with buds about to bloom, so I reached the area. The plants were on a height of about 800 ft on a steep hill. For seven continuous days I climbed up the hill only to see them in buds. As I have to document some other plants I decided to leave them behind and proceeded to the other location, thinking I will only see them in bloom the next season. To my surprise, on the drive home, all of a sudden, from the window of the moving vehicle, I spotted the species in full bloom on the road side. I got down on that deserted forest area to see six plants with four of them in full bloom. I have never experienced anything like that in my entire flower hunt, something I waited for long is right in front of me. I will never forget those moments as well as the 17 km trek I made after that to reach the nearest village!!!!
Terrestrial. Whole plant about 30 to 65 cm in height. Lower part of stem sheathed, middle leafy and upper part bracteate. Leaves 4 to 6 cm long, oblong to elliptic, 5 nerved, the base of the leaf narrowed into a long tubular sheath. Spike 4 to 7 cm long, laxly flowered. Sepals sub-equal, broadly ovate, acute, spreading, the lateral pair sub-erect. Petals narrowly oblong, sub-acute, curved inwards, shorter than the sepals. Lip as long as the sepals, lanceolate, always curved upwards. Spur totally absent. Stigmas united.
As this species is a look alike of Habenaria dentata var. dentata, it was very difficult to distinguish them without flowers. Repeatedly visited the area, every other day, trekking around 12 km. In the end, spurless buds came confirming it as Habenaria malintana, (Blanco) Merr. Then came the obstacle in the form of a land slide which brought the vehicular movement in that region to a standstill. Took the help of villagers in finding an alternative route across the river, using bamboos, ropes etc. Frequenting to there every other day became a huge hazard and decided to camp there for the bloom. This time the buds behaved nicely, they bloomed much before than expected and got the photographs of the species in bloom for the first time from the region.
Epiphytic. Pseudo-bulbs arranged close together, in some instance slightly apart also, broadly ovoid, between 1.5 to 3 cm long. Rhizome stout. Leaf 7 to 12 cm long, oblong to lanceolate, narrowed at the base into a channelled sheathing bract. The raceme longer than the peduncle, decurved with a stouter rachis. Flowers in distance of 1 to 3 cm. Sepals sub-equal, narrowly lanceolate. Petals smaller than the sepals, orbicular, fleshy. Lip longer than the sepals, very mobile in nature, lanceolate with a truncate auricled base, broadly fimbriate-fringed except at the base.
After Sir George King and Robert Pantling’s monumental work, “The Orchids of the Sikkim-Himalayas”, published in the year 1898, several publications by various authors on orchids came up. A lot of research works got the descriptions and study details of this species also. However, no photographs were made available by any of the other authors, pointing to the conclusion that this plant was not located by anyone from the wild. Sir George King and Robert Pantling mentioned August and September as its blooming time. The same was noted by all other authors who wrote about this species. After a lot of efforts I located the plant, just a few, from the region. I visited the plant several times during the months of June, July and August thinking it will bloom in those months. However, no flowers were found during those months. Then I realisied the fact that the blooming time mentioned by Sir George King and Robert Pantling may be wrong and all others followed the mistake. So decided to follow the plant round the year, visited the region once in every ten days. After a long wait, the racemes started appearing in the month of November and finally it bloomed after the winter in the first week of March. Later I got another confirmation of the blooming of the species from Meghalaya, there also it bloomed in the month of March, thus concluding to the fact that a mistake had cropped up with the monumental work. The most interesting fact is that a lot of eminent researchers followed the “mistake” by mentioning the blooming time as August and September in their publications and findings. This single incidence proves the need to study each and every species in their natural habitat before bringing out publications.